DeLorme has just announced what has the potential to be a real game changer for backcountry communication with their upcoming two-way satellite text communicator called inReach. The inReach is a small unit that on its own acts similar to the SPOT Messenger. It can track your location, send out “I’m OK” messages as well as SOS signal if you are in trouble and need to call in air support. InReach is nothing really new on it’s own but the real innovation under the hood becomes evident when it’s paired up (via Bluetooth) to your Android phone. When connected you are able to compose and receive custom text messages via the satellite network. This really opens up a huge pile of possibilities. Everything from sending trip updates to social media websites to two-way communication with search and rescue crews as to the type of emergency you have and your current condition. As seen in the supplied screen captures of the Android app, you can see a conversation between an injured hiker and SAR. What isn’t evident is if the response will come from the local SAR office or if this is a master emergency coordination centre that Delorme has set up to handle incoming SOS signals worldwide. My guess is the latter. All outgoing messages will include valuable data including your location, speed, heading, and elevation. Another very interesting feature is that inReach units will also be able to send and receive messages to each other. This has a couple of very interesting uses including hiking partners who might be exploring different parts of the trail or a guiding company owner who wants to check-in and see how her staff on trips are doing. The inReach system is currently under going full testing and certification but the plans are that it is going to be rated IPX7 waterproofing and it will float. IPX7 designation means the unit can withstand accidental immersion in one meter of water for up to 30 minutes. Pricing is still being worked out but look for it to be available in the fall for around $250. There…
Garmin has just announced an update to their very popular eTrex handheld GPS units. Updates include enhanced ergonomics, better user interface, expanded mapping capabilities as well as increased battery life (up to 25 hours now). Part of the software redesign is to make the transfer of maps and syncing of way points considerably easier then older models. Similar to before, the eTrex line-up includes three models that have been renamed. At the bottom-end of the lime, the eTrex 10 ($120) for is a basic GPS unit aimed at the budget conscious. It has a monochrome display designed primarily to tell you were you are and where the next waypoint is. The eTrex 20 ($200) adds a colour display and the ability to view topographic maps or marine charts. If you want an electronic compass and barometric altimeter then get the eTrex for $300. Look for the new models to be available this Fall. You might be interested in a couple free downloads we have in our Instructor Resource area (they are free!).  GPS Guide for Beginners Know your compass How to Take a Bearing on a Map Photo Credit: Garmin

The Kayak Chainsaw Massacre
Tuesday, 10 May 2011

He is clearly the bravest sea kayaker in the world.
A friend recently turned me onto sack straps and so far I have been impressed. If you haven’t seen them yet, Strap Sacks are basically a small nylon bag with a large opening and drawstring at one end and smaller hole with a ziptie sewn in at the other. The idea with the Strap Sack is that it attaches permanently (via the ziptie) to your canoe or kayak tie down strap and becomes a quick storage sack for your leftover straps when the boat is ties down. For example, if you got 3 feet of strapping left over; rather then winding and winding (and winding) them around the rooftop cross bar you just ball it up and stuff it in the sack and cinch it close with the drawstring. It can also be used to store your straps and keep them from tangling in between trips which is where they make my life considerably less confusing. Pricing for a set of four sacks is about $15. More info: Photo credits:
As you know water and electronics don’t mix very well and paddlers who wear hearing aids always have to make the tough choice every time they go out on the water. They can leave the very expensive unit(s) on shore and not hear well on the water or they can take the risk of them getting splashed with water and shorting out. Tough choice indeed. I remember having a student a couple years ago who came down to the paddling school for a couple of weekend clinics over the summer. Without his hearing aid he couldn’t hear a thing out there so we had to figure out a plan to keep his hearing aid dry. I put him in a super stable boat and made him aware well in advance if we were working on any skills with a medium chance he was going to fall in. I also gave him a dry bag that he could throw the units in while he was working on rescues. It worked out but it was stressful for both of us which killed the fun. If you are a hearing aid user you will be happy to know that Siemens has just released what they claim is world's first fully waterproof digital hearing aid. The Siemens Aquaris is IP57 certified which means that you can safely use them three feet underwater for up to 30 minutes. The moisture sealed unit is also shock and dust proof so it will be strong enough to handle the rigors of paddling, rescue practise or even rough water paddling. To keep the unit behind your ear, it’s got a non-slip soft rubber surface including an attachable sport clip for extra security. No word on pricing yet but you can learn more about them here. Image Credit: Siemens
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